“195 thousand tonnes of quotas worth €275m secured”
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD announced that EU Agreement has been reached on setting sustainable quotas for fish stocks following two days of intensive negotiations at the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels.
The total package of fish quotas agreed is 195,000 tonnes worth €275 million for the Irish fishing industry in 2020. There will be increases in quotas for a number of our important stocks – including Mackerel (41% increase), and Haddock (+30%), Monkfish (+7%) and Megrims (+3%) in the Celtic Sea. Our second most important fishery, Prawns, has been reduced by 15% in accordance with the scientific advice due to the decline in stock density in some important prawn beds.
Some stocks such as cod and whiting in the Celtic Sea remain in very poor shape and at this Council agreement was reached on the introduction of significant additional safeguards designed to rebuild these stocks.
The Minister said, “Securing agreement on rebuilding measures in the Celtic Sea was one of the most difficult aspects of these negotiations. Council agreed measures that will deliver the necessary protections for cod and whiting while still allowing vessels to continue fishing in a sustainable way. These measures were trialled by our experts in BIM and the Marine Institute, working closely with our fishing fleet. By taking these necessary steps now, we can rebuild the stocks in our Celtic Sea fisheries and avoid the need for closures.”
Minister Creed said that “I am satisfied that I have achieved my twin aims coming into this Fisheries Council which were to continue the progress we have made on improving sustainability and to protect key fisheries on which our coastal communities depend.”
This year marked the deadline set under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to end overfishing by setting total allowable catches (TAC) in accordance with the scientific advice. This means that for most stocks, where sufficient advice is available, quotas have been set at levels that ensure long-term sustainability, in line with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) principle.
This December Council agreed quotas for 47 stocks of particular interest to Ireland. For 32 target stocks, the quotas for 2020 were set at or below the scientific advice where available, meeting MSY criteria.
For four vulnerable stocks of interest to Ireland, where the advice was for no fishing, restrictive quotas were set. This allows for unavoidable by-catches of these stocks, in circumstances where they are part of mixed fisheries.
The Council also agreed to very small quotas to allow for the collection of scientific data for 3 depleted herring stocks.
For the eight remaining stocks, it was agreed to set precautionary quotas considering the scientific advice available, and the status of many of these as minor by-catches.
Minister Creed said, “Since the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, we have been working steadily towards the objective of setting quotas in line with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2020. However, this is not the end of this journey. We must continue to build on the progress we have made to secure a sustainable future for our fishing industry and the coastal communities which depend upon it.”